Ghost Rails

Ghost Rails

A Victorian era train station sits silently, as the very city it helped to create ignores and neglects it into oblivion. Where once the rails of this enterprising station ran, can now be found a small strip mall and a McDonalds drive-through. The station itself lies just feet from a busy throughway, yet hardly a glace is given toward it today. The era of it's usefulness has long past, and the only visitors that pay this once lively station any mind are the family of feral cats that now call it home.

Constructed in in 1866, the station's ornate design directly reflected the then-flourishing economy of the large Pennsylvanian city in which it resides. Initially used for the transport of coal, by the early 1900's the Central Railroad of New Jersey took lease of the tracks and transformed the station into a thing of grace. Travel by train had become popular, and the station was redesigned to appeal to more upscale clientele. Hand-carved wooden trim and facades adorned many of the walls, and several fireplaces were constructed to give the interior an air of elegance. Perhaps most notable addition, however, was the installation of a grand curved wooden staircase which spiraled down through the center of the building.

The Great Depression struck the Central Railroad of New Jersey with a crippling blow. The station managed to limp on for years thereafter, but what remained was but a shadow of the former grandeur. By the time Central Railroad of New Jersey was able to get back on their feet, modern automobiles had replaced most all the need for travel by rail. Passenger travel within the city ceased in 1963, and the line shut down for good in 1972. That same year plans began being put together to level the old station, much to the dismay of a local resident by the name of Marvin Roth, who had grown up by the old station. Marvin Roth purchased the ailing building and property in the late 1970's. He went on to invest millions of dollars in the old station and transformed it into a high class nightclub, restaurant, and hotel. He brought in several rail-cars and had them placed adjacent to the station. Inside these cars he had constructed a hotel setting called the Choo-Choo Inn. The operations at the old station were successful well into the 1980's, at which point the facility was purchased and turned into the Playboy Steakhouse. Unfortunately, the steakhouse proved a failure. Throughout the 1980's and 90's several different businesses tried their hands at the old station, and each one proved short lived. The last business to call the station home was a restaurant and pub by the name of Bananna Joe's. It closed after a short run, in 2005. The name that still reads upon the dust-covered mirrors of the station lobby.

Within the station, behind a veil of filth and animal musk, can still be found the beautiful designs and craftsmanship of years past. Nature has been running it's course through the seasons, and what was once a building of renowned elegance, is now weathering away more and more with each passing year. Ornate woodwork has begun to rot, the floors bulge and sag, and every strong gust of wind rattles the lose facade in a cacophony of noise. However, standing tall in the middle of all this can be found a beautiful curved staircase. It's form still strong, and it's beauty still clear. Almost as if the old railway station is trying to remind you that it was once, not very long ago, a thing of great beauty. Upstairs, the state of decay is similar - The damask wallpaper which runs the corridors has faded to a pale yellow, stains and creeping black mildew spread out as the roof above becomes less and less able to keep the weather at bay. A cool wind blows in through one of the shattered windows.

Just outside the darkened lobby, a small plaque is mounted upon the red brick wall. Though easily overlooked, it is perhaps the most poignant artifact to be found within this rundown station. In plan block letters it proudly and ironically proclaims - “Marvin Roth, a local entrepreneur rehabilitated this edifice so that posterity may forever enjoy its presence.”

We met this guy when we first arrived, and he proceeded to follow us about all day.


The detail work on the ceiling is amazing... though the color scheme is questionable at best.


Velvet damask wallpaper lines the upper level corridors.